Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Exactly Does “Ba” Mean?

Hi Everyone--and welcome to our Baby Signs blog!

Besides being co-founder of the Baby Signs Program (the original and only research based sign language program for hearing babies), I'm also the very proud grandmother to two wonderful, 20-month-old twins, Nate and Olivia. Not surprisingly, they were encouraged to use signs and did, indeed, pick them up with enthusiasm. It was so much fun--and brought back fond memories of the signing that started the whole movement--my daughter Kate's signing back in 1982.

Well, Nate and Olivia, as they approach their second birthday, are getting more and more words. Most of these words, unfortunately, sound pretty much the same. For example, Olivia currently says something like “ba” for “baby,” “ball,” and “bottle.” That makes her habit of still using the appropriate sign when she says “ba” a godsend. Instead of looking at her in frustration and listing all the possibilities, I can correctly interpret her word ( “Oh, baby! You see the baby!” ), and she is absolutely thrilled to be understood.

Using signs to clarify what they are trying to say is an advantage of baby sign language that is often overlooked—until a parent very gratefully sees it in action. It turns out to be important because receiving positive attention for trying to talk is an important incentive that motivates children to keep working hard to add new words. Just think how discouraging it is to be struggling to be understood in a foreign country when you can’t say the words quite right. It’s enough to make you want to retreat in silence to your hotel room!

Children are the same. Having signs to add to their fledgling words alleviates both their frustration—and ours!

Happy Signing! (And don't forget to visit us on Facebook.)


Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.

Co-Founder, the Original Baby Signs Program

Professor Emeritus, UC Davis

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